Review: The Huawei Fit joins the crowd of fitness watches

Huawei's latest entry into the U.S. market is a nicely designed, lightweight fitness watch with a good range of features. But that may not be enough to compete.

huawei fit productphotoc blue 20160913
Credit: Huawei
At a Glance

I'm not an especially fit person, by most standards -- I try to walk each morning and walk (rather than drive) to do my errands, and I get up from my desk chair at regular intervals, but that's about the extent of my exertions. As a result, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the current enthusiasm for fitness "watches" such as the Fitbit Charge 2 and other wearables.

Despite that, when I was recently given the chance to try out the new Huawei Fit, which launched in the U.S. today, I didn't say no. I've been told by several friends that monitoring your activity encourages more of it, and so I was curious as to how well I'd like the Fit -- and whether it would change my behavior.

The Huawei Fit is a rather traditional-looking device; unlike the Charge 2, which blends into the watchband, the aluminum Fit (which comes in two colors: silver or dark gray) has a round face with a diameter of 1.5-in. 

The Fit is extremely lightweight -- pleasantly so. While it may not have the solidity of some of the other fitness watches on the market, I'm happy with that; as far as I'm concerned, the lighter the device (and the less attention I need to give to it when I'm not using it), the better. Admittedly, polyurethane watch band (in either black, blue or orange) is a bit cheap-looking, but I found it quite comfortable to wear, even on the long term; and according to Huawei, you can easily swap it for a traditional watch band.

The watch face is a plain, black and white 1.04-in. LCD touch screen with a 208 x 208 resolution. It is fairly visible, although I did have some difficulty in medium-light environments. The Fit does have backlighting that comes on automatically in low-light situations or can be manually started by tapping the screen, which helps.

Unlike the Fitbit, the Huawei Fit's touch screen does not require a side button to access its features. It's always on -- something that I found useful when using it as a watch. The battery life seems fine -- six days after I'd started wearing it, there was still a third of a charge left.

In order to use the watch, you swipe up or down to see the various categories. While it was easy to deal with on the whole, I found the touch screen was occasionally a bit cranky, taking more than one swipe to make the face move.

Categories start with Workout (which times your workouts for you; there are modes for running, walking, treadmill or swimming), a listing of the numbers of steps you've walked, and Heart Rate (it checks you every 10 minutes). The next, Training Plan, is set up via the Huawei Wear app; you set your goals and it uses your preferences and statistics (age, weight, etc.) to set up a customized training plan for you.

The Fit will also track your sleeping, although I didn't find it terribly accurate (but then, I've yet to find a sleep tracker that really works). It will notify you if you've been sitting in one place too long. And you can receive notifications of incoming calls.

The Fit is fitted with an accelerometer, gyrometer and heart rate sensor; it does not have its own GPS, so if you want to track your distance, you need to do it through the Huawei Wear app on your phone.

If you prefer using your own fitness software, the company says you can also set up the Fit to work with third-party services such as Jawbone's UP, Google Fit or MyFitnessPal.

Bottom line

From talking to colleagues who have also used fitness wearables, I'd say that the Huawei Fit is a good example of the genre, although it doesn't stand out. It's lightweight and comfortable; will track your workouts and walking; and will last for at least six days on a charge. (And yes, I found myself more aware of how much I walked per day.) However, it can be difficult to read in medium lighting, the touch screen can occasionally be stubborn, and at $130 list, it is on a price par with a number of competitors, some of which are better known.

However, if you're looking to buy a fitness watch for yourself, or as a gift, the Huawei Fit should certainly be in the running. So to speak.

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At a Glance
  • $129.99 MSRP $129.99
    View
    on Amazon

    Pros

    • Lightweight and comfortable to wear.
    • Long battery life.
    • Wide range of features, including modes for a number of exercise types.

    Cons

    • Can be difficult to read in medium lighting.
    • Doesn't offer anything outstanding in crowded market.
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